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STARS fundraiser sees business leaders rescued from remote area

A STARS helicopter left the Regina base this morning with four business executives taking part in the STARS Rescue on the Prairies fundraiser.

REGINA - Once again, a group of Saskatchewan business leaders are heading off on a real-life, reality-competition-type challenge involving STARS Air Ambulance.

It is the eighth annual STARS Rescue on the Prairie, a fundraising event where participants are sent to remote locations where they take part in challenges, use their mobile phones and their personal networks to raise money for the organization -- and of course, get rescued.

The four individuals taking part in the challenge this year are James “Joc” O'Rourke, President & Chief Executive Officer of The Mosaic Company; Chris Mansuy, Sales Consultant for South Country Equipment; Chad Davidge, Vice-President of Operations for AG Northern SK at Brandt; and Brent Collins, Head of Seeds for BASF Canada Inc.

The four arrived at the STARS base in Regina early on Thursday morning, where they participated in their first challenge of the day: the Readiness Challenge. It was a timed event which involved fitting into their flight suits and helmets, and successfully buckling into the helicopter.

After that challenge, the four boarded the STARS Air Ambulance helicopter, which then took off and flew to a remote undisclosed location about 20 minutes from the Regina base. 

The day was set to include a series of scenarios and on-site challenges for the participants at that location, to give them an experience on what STARS is really like. There was also a fundraising challenge, with members of the public able to help rescue the participants by donating at

During the challenges, the participants use a variety of the medical and other equipment STARS uses. There is also an “SOS” challenge where they must figure out how to signal STARS to pick them up. 

Since the event launched in 2015, over $2.6 million has been raised for STARS in the province. They are hoping to top last year’s total of $360,000 from the event held near Saskatoon. It's one of the ways STARS is able to fund the vital medical services they provide to people in the province.

“We are incredibly lucky to have a service across the prairies like STARS Air Ambulance,” said Katherine Emberly, who is in her first week as new President and CEO of STARS Air Ambulance.

“It’s really critical care anywhere. Anyone, no matter where you are or who you are within all of these vast geographic territories that we have, we will be there when you need us.”

Not only does STARS get there, but Emberly said they “bring the people to you” including a critical care nurse, a paramedic, and physician as well. She said the helicopters are fully equipped to handle emergency medical situations.

“It’s really an ICU in the helicopter, so you’ve got blood on board, ultrasound, all of the equipment to start helping you immediately on site.”

Emberly said STARS a very unique model which is both publicly and privately funded. “So here in Saskatchewan the government pays for half of the cost and then the community fundraises the second half."

She called it an "incredible service that has saved thousands of lives — over 55,000 since STARS started in 1985.”

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